Category Archives: California Redwoods

Writer’s Camp

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This morning Aki is at home with her other human. I’m out the road, twenty-some miles from home at writer’s camp. At least that what I am calling it. Ten other writers share the same cabin. When not eating, walking, or talking we write.

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I wake early, down a cup of instant coffee, and leave the cabin. The beach in front of the cabin is still in dusky shadow but across Favorite Channel, the Chilkats are warming with Mediterranean light. In a half-an-hour I might be able to warm myself in sunlight but view across the channel will be too soft to impress. Birds that are just silhouettes bounce through the splash zone. Close in to the beach, a sea lion rumbles up for a breath and then splashes back into the water. Across the channel, the mountains are losing their buttery color.

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Because there might be bears there, I have been waiting to return to the Eagle River until Aki is otherwise occupied. Now is my chance so I drive from the writer’s camp cabin to trailhead and find the river diminished by drought and a very low tide.  Side streams that might otherwise be filled with spawning salmon are dry. I have to step carefully around and over desiccated chunks of salmon and great piles of bear scat. There are fresh brown bear tracks but I will not see a bear today.  They may already be heading upriver to the salmon spawning grounds. Soon we can return to this spot, one of  Aki’s favorites.

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Big Trees 

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Aki and I are together again after I had to travel to the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada for a funeral. Following the service, Aki’s other human and I walked through a grove of Giant Sequoias. It had snowed there two days before but only a little of the white stuff colored the ground when we walked around the redwood forest. Sunlight reached through the forest canopy. As it warmed the redwoods, steam rose off their thick bark.

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One redwood tree stood, dead black and bark-less, in the center of a small clearing. One hundred and sixty years ago a developer had stripped all the bark off the then living giant for use as a tourist attraction. The tree still held this ground against wild fires, winds, and snows. It survived tourist invasions and continues to use its ugliness to educate the humans it dwarfs.

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Men have logged giant spruce and hemlock trees along side the rain forest trail Aki and I use this morning. But in our time, more of the big trees have tumbled to windstorms than chainsaws. While all the forest trees dwarf the little dog and me, none lecture us. They leave that to the eagles now scanning an exposed beach for salmon.

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